Star Trek: Enterprise: The Augments   Rewatch 
February 16, 2020 10:29 AM - Season 4, Episode 6 - Subscribe

The Enterprise races to stop a group of genetic supermen in a stolen starship from unleashing a weapon of mass destruction. (Please note: this is not Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Technically.)

No one was to be killed without Memory Alpha's express order!:

- The scene of a gravely-injured Malik crawling through the ruined bridge is slightly familiar and possibly a homage to a very similar scene with Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

- The Briar Patch from Star Trek: Insurrection is mentioned here by Arik Soong as a place of refuge for his Augment children. Both Brent Spiner (Soong) and director LeVar Burton had starred in Star Trek: Insurrection. Soong also claims that the Klingon name for the Briar Patch is Klach D'kel Brakt, which was mentioned by Kor in DS9: "Blood Oath" as the site of a great victory by the Klingons over the Romulans.

- This three-part story arc established that in the 22nd century, genetic engineering was completely banned on Earth after the Eugenics Wars, even for genetic research which could be used to cure critical illnesses. At the end of the story, Archer expresses his hope to Dr. Soong that research into genetic engineering that could cure life-threatening diseases would actually be resumed. According to Dr. Bashir in DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume", by the 24th century genetic engineering was indeed used by that time to treat serious medical conditions, though trying to genetically engineer Humans with "superior" abilities was still banned.

- At the end of this episode, Arik Soong claims "I've been thinking, perfecting Humanity may not be possible. Cybernetics. Artificial lifeforms. I doubt I'll finish the work myself; might take a generation or two." This is a direct link to the Soong family's work in upcoming centuries, culminating in the creation of the androids B-4, Lore, Data, and Juliana Tainer by his great-grandson Noonian Soong.

"Come on. It's not like we would have made an ideal couple. A Vulcan and a Human? Romeo and Juliet probably stood a better chance."

- Tucker, to T'Pol

"Is there something we can do to keep from showing up on their sensors?"
"I could paint a bird of prey on the hull."

- Archer and Tucker

"Are you familiar with the name Botany Bay?"
"It's a penal colony on the shores of Australia."
"It's also the name of a pre-warp vessel launched at the end of the great wars. The ship carried many of our brethren, including Khan Noonien Singh."
"Botany Bay is a myth! There's no evidence it ever existed."
"All records of the launch were destroyed. They didn't want to be followed."
"Even if you're right, the ship was lost, never to be heard from again."
"That's exactly my point. Khan was a great leader, but he made one fatal mistake. He ran from his enemies rather than face them."

- Malik, Persis and Arik Soong

"You could at least let me finish my work before you take it away and destroy it…"
"No one's destroyed anything. It's being stored in a secure location – maybe someday, we'll figure out how to use it to benefit Humanity."
"I wouldn't count on it."

- Soong and Archer

Poster's Log:

The three-parter ends with a fairly satisfying action-filled installment, although not without its problems, IMO. The resolution of last episode's cliff-hanger was good, and scientifically accurate--no "explosive decompression" as was previously believed to be likely in exposure to the vacuum of outer space (or even, in the original Total Recall, the thin atmosphere of Mars), but still some damage, and the work of the makeup artists in showing Archer's gradual recovery was great. Archer makes his Bluff check when he's talking his way past the Klingons--I liked this version much better than a similar scene in Star Trek VI, especially as Hoshi throws in the info that there are different dialects of Klingon--and we get the information that it might take several generations of Soongs, at least, to come up with Data and his siblings, which makes a lot of sense in terms of the rest of the Federation still not having come up with anything better by the time of Star Trek: Picard except what they've been able to derive from the Soong design. Finally, the essential inadequacy of the Augments in becoming galactic conquerors--well, at least this particular batch--is illustrated in their pretty awful plan. Arik Soong's plan--to both hide out for a while in the Briar Patch, and to modify the next generation to be less aggro so that they can work together--may have actually worked, and what a different place the Alpha Quadrant, if not the galaxy, might have been if he'd pulled it off. But, of course, Malik, whose name seems derived from "malice", can't have that. He wasn't anything like a real strategist, was our Malik, and his one halfway-decent tactic was to get potential threats close enough to himself to stab; his final act was petty (and unfulfilled) revenge.

Not-so-great aspects of the episode: that last-act fake-out--if Malik & Co. could beam aboard the NX-01 without being detected, why didn't they use that during the battle? And more crucially, who made Archer an expert on psychological development? During their conversation, Soong says that he can fix future generations--maybe so, maybe no, since he didn't catch the potential problem during his first attempt and didn't realize that it might be a problem even with the very obvious example of Khan and his cohort, but if anyone could fix that, it would be him--and Archer responds with "superior ability breeds superior ambition." Spin the Wheel of Archer's Dunning-Kruger Manifestations, the pointer lands on "thinks he's resolved the nature-nurture question." It may not have been true of Persis; it definitely wasn't true of Julian Bashir, and arguably not even of the Jack Pack. (Jack himself could be violent, or at least threaten it, but that was generally when he was feeling threatened himself.) The scene seems intended more to justify Trek's anti-genetic-engineering stance, which has been discussed before in other posts.

Poster's Log, supplemental: MA has this to say about the (potential) Soong dynasty: "This episode's ending on a positive note suggests that Soong may eventually be released from prison. At this point, it wasn't clear if he had fathered any (biological) children yet as no existing family was mentioned." Given Spiner's participation in Picard, maybe someone could whip up a Short Treks episode about Arik Soong's adventures in dating.
posted by Halloween Jack (3 comments total)
An Armenian friend told me Malik means king, or a kingly line.
posted by Oyéah at 11:53 AM on February 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

P.S. Just in case you might have been thinking that no one would call it "eugenics" any more, here's Richard Dawkins. (Quick, everyone, look shocked.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:25 PM on February 16, 2020

Archer can do diplomacy stuff when it's blustering aggressive thin-skinned Klingon diplomacy!

I feel like they actually started to touch on something interesting when Malik discovers that Soong is editing the embryos. Where does eugenics end, who is to say what's "superior", how can Augments be a people if they can just be updated forever. I was hoping Malik would decide that since humans made Augments, they might have messed it up, and so only Augments should make Augments. Go full Nietzsche and kill God.

The little revenge of Malik scene that ends with Archer blowing a hole in his abdomen was really weird and unnecessary.

I called the Augments mall goths earlier though they are more kind of Euro trash, or like the nihiists from Lebowski. Post-fascists or something.
posted by fleacircus at 3:27 AM on February 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

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